Q I learned that my less-ex­pe­ri­enced male coun­ter­part makes more money than me.

Worse, my goals are more ag­gres­sive than his be­cause my man­ager says, “I’m the best in the de­part­ment.” How do I get a raise? Do I have any le­gal re­course in Geor­gia?

Working Mother - - Get Ahead -

AThe good news: Nearly ev­ery state has some vari­a­tion of Fair Em­ploy­ment Acts, which makes dis­crim­i­nat­ing based on gen­der il­le­gal, ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Univer­sity Women. Alabama and Mis­sis­sippi of­fer no such pro­tec­tions ( get on it, guys). How­ever, not all work­ers are al­ways cov­ered. Ac­cord­ing to Geor­gia-based em­ploy­ment lawyer John Beasley, that state’s law pro­tects only state em­ploy­ees. But pri­vate-sec­tor work­ers still have le­gal op­tions.

Beasley rec­om­mends first shar­ing the specifics of your sit­u­a­tion with an at­tor­ney to de­ter­mine whether your em­ployer is vi­o­lat­ing the law. Next, plan a meet­ing with your man­ager and a hu­man re­sources of­fi­cial to let them know your dis­sat­is­fac­tion with be­ing paid less for bet­ter work, and your de­sire for a raise that matches your man­ager’s high ex­pec­ta­tions. Don’t say that you’ve lawyered up quite yet. But if you aren’t able to get a raise, meet with your lawyer again.

You might want to file a com­plaint with the Equal Em­ploy­ment Op­por­tu­nity Com­mis­sion (EEOC) or go di­rectly to court, cit­ing a vi­o­la­tion of the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

You must be able to prove that you are be­ing paid less de­spite do­ing the same amount of work and hav­ing the same skills and du­ties as your male co-worker. You can show job de­scrip­tions, em­ployee man­u­als and per­for­mance re­quire­ments. A sub­poena of pay­roll records can show the pay dif­fer­ence.

Or in­stead you can file an EEOC com­plaint cit­ing Ti­tle VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, says Beasley. You’d still need to prove pay dif­fer­ences, but un­like un­der the Equal Pay Act, em­ploy­ees don’t need to be do­ing the ex­act same job—as long as the dis­crep­ancy in pay is based on gen­der. You have 180 days since the last act of dis­crim­i­na­tion ( your pay- check) to file this.

Even if you agreed to set­tle dis­putes in ar­bi­tra­tion when you ac­cepted your job, you can (and per­haps should) still file charges; it’s just that a third-party group will set­tle the case in­stead of a judge and jury.

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